Our compartments are just as extravagant as they were last year and when we reach the dining room, Effie, Cinna and Portia are sitting there waiting for us. Effie jumps up and greets us all and Cinna hugs me tightly. We sit down at the table and the food is brought in. I barely eat anything and Peeta holds my hand under the table. Haymitch continues to pour a vile-smelling liquid, which must be some type of liqueur, into his wine.
"I love your hair, Effie," Peeta comments. It's gold, the colour of my pin.
"I got it done specially so that it would match Katniss' pin. I thought maybe I could get you and Haymitch a gold bracelet or something, so we'd all look like a team," she says, glaring at Haymitch, who is now drinking from his flask. Peeta nods.
"How about it, Haymitch?" asks Peeta, pointedly trying to distract him from the alcohol.
"Whatever," Haymitch says. He excuses himself and walks off. Probably to find more alcohol.
"Shall we watch a recap of the reapings?" asks Effie brightly. Peeta goes to find his notebook and I stand up to go with Effie. a sudden wave of dizziness catches me by surprise. I sway slightly and the room blurs. I grab the top of my chair and close my eyes. As it passes, I let out a breath and see Effie, paused in the doorway, a look of disbelief on her face her eyes are trained on my barely noticeable bump.
I walk to the compartment with the television with Effie. When we sit down, the door closes, leaving the capitol servants and avoxes outside. She looks at me nervously and I can tell she doesn't know what to say to me.
"Katniss… I'm sorry," she says "you don't deserve this."
"Thanks, Effie," I say.
"Katniss, I am here to help you in any way that I can. That is my job, but I can't do my job if you're not telling me things. Is there something you want to tell me?"
I feel so nervous and scared that I forget to be surprised at Effie's unexpected display of concern.
"I…" my voice falters and I fix my gaze on the ground in attempt to evade reality. "I'm pregnant," I whisper.
Effie doesn't look angry or shocked, instead, her expression is one of sadness, pity and almost…guilt.
"Katniss," she starts, her voice just above a whisper, "I'm so sorry."
Before I can respond, Peeta walks in and the capitol anthem begins to play. The recap of the reaping begins to play.
In the history of the games, there have been seventy-five victors. Just fifty-nine are still alive. I can't focus on anything but the fact that my baby - mine and Peeta's child could have the same fate. The thought sends a shiver down my spine. I realise how tightly I am squeezing Peeta's hand and release him. He puts his left arm around me while he makes notes of every other tribute Haymitch and I will be facing.
The reapings go by quickly and Peeta and I excuse ourselves and we go to my bedroom. I decide to take a shower and push the right button. Afterwards, I put on some pyjamas and climb into bed next to Peeta. When he puts his arms around me, the baby kicks softly against him, as if he or she knows who he is. He kisses me and then my bump goodnight and I fall asleep in his arms.
I dream that my child is a girl and her name is called by President Snow at the reaping. I have to watch her die on the screens and I have no way of helping her. I wake up screaming and sit upright, scaring Peeta. He wakes up and tries to calm me down, but I can't stop the flow of tears streaming down my face.
"The baby…" I choke, sobbing. Peeta just pulls me against him and whispers that everything will be alright. I can't sleep after that and Peeta stays up with me. We go back to the television compartment and go through the box of videos of old games. We find the last Quarter Quell, the fiftieth Hunger Games. I share a glance with Peeta. This is the games where Haymitch won. Just as it is ending, Haymitch walks in. He doesn't seem to mind that we watched the tape, though. "That stunt was almost as bad as us and the berries," Peeta jokes.
"Not quite," Haymitch replies cooly. Peeta and I go back to bed and try to sleep for a few hours before arriving in the capitol.
When we wake up, we have arrived in the Capitol and soon, we are escorted to the training centre building, where we go to the floor assigned for district twelve. Peeta spends the afternoon instructing us to make friends with other tributes. Haymitch is up for it, but I don't want to have to lose another ally.
The next morning, Flavius, Venia and Octavia find Peeta and me, still asleep in bed. Flavius and Venia both burst into tears at the sight of us together. Luckily, I'm wearing a baggy top so they don't notice the slight roundness of my bump. I wonder how I'm going to tell Cinna, now that I'm showing slightly. I barely saw him on the train, so he didn't notice – I think. Peeta kisses me, then leaves to find his prep team – he has to look his best as a mentor.
It turns out my prep team have become quite attached to me and I find it annoying that I have to be the one consoling them. Maybe it's just hormones – even that thought irritates me. When they are finished, Cinna walks in and I snap at him: "I swear, if you cry, I'll kill you here and now." He just smirks.
"Had a damp morning?"
"You could wring me out," I say, sighing. "Cinna," I start nervously "I'm pregnant."
A look of shock appears on his face as his teasing smile disappears. "How far along?" he asks.
"Twelve weeks, nearly Thirteen," I say, staring at my feet.
"I'll have to take new measurements and make some adjustments to your other outfits, but I think the one for tonight will be fine. No one will be able to tell," he says mysteriously. Wondering what he could mean, I follow Cinna to the large bag on a hanger lying on the bed. Before opening it, he adjusts my elaborate hairstyle and smiles warmly at me. He turns to the bag and unzips it.
The costume is deceptively simple, just a black jumpsuit, covering every inch of skin from my neck downwards. "How will this hide my stomach?" I ask, confused. Cinna reaches for my sleeve and presses a concealed button. The jumpsuit lights up with a soft orange glow which reminds me of Peeta and then turns red. It gives the illusion that I am wearing candlelight. "Cinna…" I say in awe "how did you do this?"
"Portia and I spent a lot of hours watching fires," he says. I look at myself in the mirror, still stunned. Katniss, the girl on fire has left behind her flickering flames and pretty frocks; she is deadly as fire itself.
"When you're on the chariot," he says "No smiling or waving. I want you to stare straight ahead, as if the crowd is beneath you."
"Finally, something I'll be good at. I don't think Haymitch will have a problem."
An hour later, I have made the acquaintance of many of the victors, including Finnick Odair, Wiress and Beetee. Peeta takes my hand and helps me into the chariot, where I stand next to Haymitch, who is dressed similarly.
We begin to move and the roar of the crowd increases. People blow kisses and even throw roses at us. I simply fix my eyes on a point in the distance and ignore them. Afterwards, it seems as if the other tributes are trying to catch my attention in some way. Finnick smiles at me, Chaff kisses me on the mouth, while Haymitch laughs at me, and in the elevator, Joannah strips off in front of Peeta, Haymitch and me. I look away awkwardly and so does Peeta, but Haymitch just grins. The rest of the evening is uneventful.